A Slow Travel Guide to Toulouse
Toulouse is a city that naturally encourages slow travel. With its ornate architecture, first-class food culture, and numerous green spaces, Toulouse is the perfect city for a relaxing break.
For those who love diving into the culture of a place and experiencing the city like a local, Toulouse offers a wealth of things to do.
We hope the following blog will offer plenty of inspiration for your travels. If you will be in Toulouse and want to learn about the local food culture in the company of a local culinary expert, browse our range of Walking Food Tours in Toulouse.
Our Favorite Neighborhoods in Toulouse
Le Capitole: As the historical epicenter of Toulouse, Le Capitole features extraordinarily beautiful architecture. If you’re exploring the center of the city and would like to stop to eat, we recommend Le Bibent.
This restaurant, on the city’s list of historic monuments, is renowned for its ornate 19th-century architecture and opulent Baroque and Art Nouveau interior.
Stopping there for a drink – or even an afternoon tea/coffee – is also an option. Each day, they have a Happy Hour from 5 to 7 p.m. that features cocktails for 8 €.
Saint-Cyprien: This neighborhood, lying southwest of the Garonne River (the locals call it the “left bank”), exudes an artistic aura. Stroll the streets, explore local markets, and allow the bohemian spirit of the area to seep into your soul.
Les Carmes: An embodiment of old-world charm, Les Carmes pulsates with life, particularly around its covered market. The winding streets, dotted with artisan boutiques, are perfect for unhurried exploration.
If you’re wandering around this neighborhood and would like some tasty food on the go, try Le Boui Boui’s Berlin-inspired kebabs.
Saint-Aubin & Dupuy: This duo of neighborhoods entices visitors with a laid-back vibe. The Sunday morning market at Saint-Aubin is a must-visit (though we recommend getting there early to avoid crowds), while Dupuy’s cafes provide the ideal backdrop for leisurely conversations and people-watching.
Relaxing Activities in Toulouse
River Garonne Promenade: The Garonne, with its shimmering waters, offers an ideal setting for tranquil walks. For a different perspective, hop onto one of the boat rides, letting the city’s beauty unfold before you.
Jardin des Plantes: A lush oasis in the heart of Toulouse, this garden promises serenity. Meander through its paths, find a quiet bench, and let nature’s calm wash over you.
Visiting Basilique Saint-Sernin: This architectural marvel, a UNESCO World Heritage site, isn’t just for history buffs. Step inside and embrace its silent, spiritual atmosphere as you ponder centuries past.
Attend a Local Workshop: Dive deeper into the Toulousain way of life by enrolling in a workshop. Whether it’s molding clay, mastering a traditional French dish, learning to dye using the pastel plant or crafting local art, the city offers myriad opportunities to learn and engage.
If you’re looking to dig deep into discovering the flavors of the region, consider booking our private Cheese and Wine Experience in Toulouse.
Embracing the Local Culture in Toulouse
Visit Victor Hugo Market: More than just a marketplace, Victor Hugo gives visitors a great look at Toulouse’s vibrant culinary scene. Here, stalls burst with colors and aromas, offering a sensory introduction to the region’s freshest produce and specialties.
To learn about the history of the market and sample some delicious artisanal products while doing so, join us for our Victor Hugo Market Tour.
Participate in a Local “Apéro”: Beyond mere dining, the Toulousain “apéro” is a cherished pre-dinner ritual. Join the locals in this social tradition, enjoying light snacks, local wines, and engaging conversations as the sun sets.
If you’d like to see some of the city’s coolest wine bars while enjoying an early evening drink, take our Wine Bar Tour of Toulouse.
Attend a Rugby Match: While, globally, football might dominate, in Toulouse (and much of the southwest of France), rugby reigns supreme. Even if you’re not a sports enthusiast, the electric atmosphere of a live match is infectious and provides a window into the city’s collective passion.
To learn more about the city’s long love affair with rugby, read our Rugby Fan’s Guide to Toulouse.
Explore Local Bookshops and Cafes: Wander into one of the many independent bookshops, lose yourself in literature, or simply enjoy a coffee at a local café, observing the ebb and flow of Toulousain life around you.
Ombres Blanches is one of our favorite local bookshops – and they even have a storefront devoted to foreign-language books (including titles in English) located at 3 rue Mirepoix in the city center.
If comics and graphic novels are your thing (and we certainly love them here in France!), we recommend checking out Librairie Bédéciné on Rue Jean-Antoine Romiguières.
The Food Culture of Toulouse
Cassoulet: This hearty dish, with its beans and assorted meats, epitomizes Toulousain comfort food. Slow-cooked to perfection, its rich flavors are a testament to the region’s culinary heritage.
Saucisse de Toulouse: More than just a sausage, it’s a flavor-packed emblem of the city. Often grilled and paired with potato purée and local wines, it’s a simple yet unforgettable treat.
Foie Gras: A delicacy that needs no introduction, Toulouse’s foie gras stands out with its creamy texture and rich taste. It’s generally made out of duck instead of the more popular goose used further north. Enjoy it on toast or as part of a more elaborate dish.
Local Wines: The surrounding regions of Fronton and Gaillac produce wines that beautifully complement Toulousain cuisine. Whether you prefer a robust red or a crisp white, the local vineyards promise a delightful exploration.
Read our blog, Typical Foods to Try in Toulouse to learn more about the city’s local specialties.
Toulouse, with winning cultural sites and gastronomy, is a haven for the slow traveler. The true essence of this enchanting city unfolds not in hurried sightseeing but in leisurely exploration.